In addition, during this conference call, we may refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures. We have provided a reconciliation of these non-GAAP measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measure in an appendix in the slides on our the website.
I will now turn the call over to Paul to begin the review of the first quarter. Paul?
Paul D. Carrico
Thanks, Martin, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We appreciate you joining us this morning. I'll go through the details of the quarter in a few minutes but before that, I'd like to outline some thoughts on why I believe Georgia Gulf is poised to deliver significant value to shareholders in the coming years.
First, as you all know and have heard many times recently, the development of shale gas resources in the United States continues to fundamentally change the landscape for global petrochemicals and for North America in particular. Nothing is changing that dynamic from our point of view. After a lengthy history of being marginally competitive to disadvantaged, North America producers are now at the low end of the cost curve. Based on the view of many experts in the industry, the advantage appears to be sustainable for many years to come.
As one example in our industry of this sea change, the major increase in the export volumes far PVC in the last year dramatically illustrates how we can now participate in world markets, while producing key materials for such a basic need as water management in countries expanding their infrastructure.
The global demand for our products will continue to grow because they are essential materials needed to provide the basic necessities of clean water and shelter, to developed and developing markets around the world. Many of these areas have per capita consumption well below current demand in North America and Europe.